Today is National Walk to School Day. Communities all across the U.S. will celebrate the benefits of walking to school today. Many of those communities will use today’s celebration and awareness to create safe walking and biking routes for their children and youth. It’s a good day!
Growing up on Signal Mountain, outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, we walked to school when the weather was good. The school bus stop was at the street corner just by my house but on nice days, walking to school was a neighborhood thing. We were an ever expanding group of kids walking the the blocks to our local elementary school. I remember scuffling along through leaves with friends, watching for the crossing guards at roadways, and the elbowing to get to the water fountain before the first bell rang.
Walking home from school was something I looked forward to. The same group of neighborhood kids would gather up and walk home together. Many were joined by their very enthusiastic dogs as they got close to home. We were a big pack of kids and dogs, heading homeward, dropping off by ones and twos at our homes or the homes of our friends. I recall that I felt free, I felt at peace, I daydreamed and walked and the stress of the school day disappeared.
Granted that was a long, long, time ago and times have changed. But the sensation of bookmarking my school day with a welcomed walk has stayed with me.
I’m obviously a fan of National Walk to School Day for many reasons but they all boil down to one: health. The health of our kids, which is enhanced by walking to school. The health of our neighborhoods and communities, which is enhanced by having safe walking routes for our kids. The health of our connections to one another—the shared activity of walking to school means that we’re aware of our neighbors, aware of what’s going on in our neighborhoods, aware of and caring of, one another.
National Walk to School Day is a good thing. Let me know on the 1MWW FB page if your community is participating—I’d love to hear from you and learn how your community is getting its walk on.